The Congress’s reaction to the conviction of Sajjan Kumar in a case related to the 1984 anti-Sikh riots was on predictable lines — the law should take its course, he holds no position in the party and what about the Gujarat riots and those involved in it. Not surprising, because the Congress has in the last 34 years never disowned Kumar, Jagdish Tytler and the late H K L Bhagat, who were MPs and ministers multiple times. But there were occasions when they were left out in the cold as well.
In August, Congress president Rahul Gandhi had told leaders in London that the Congress was not involved in the anti-Sikh riots that followed the assassination of Indira Gandhi. On Monday, the Congress said that Kumar was not given a party ticket and does not hold any office whereas those accused of riots have been given positions in Gujarat.
However, just two months after the 1984 riots, Bhagat, who was a Union minister of state, was elevated to Cabinet rank. Tytler was also inducted into the Union council of ministers for the first time 11 months later, in September 1985. Kumar, who was an MP in 1980, was fielded again in 1991 from Outer Delhi. He won and was given a ticket again in 1996 when he lost to BJP’s Krishan Lal Sharma. Kumar was denied a ticket in 1998 and 1999, but was the Congress candidate again in 2004. The denial in 1998 came soon after Sonia Gandhi expressed anguish over the killings of Sikhs at a speech in Chandigarh. Tytler and Bhagat were also denied tickets. But Tytler managed to get a ticket again in 1999.
In 2004, Tytler and Kumar were fielded from seats in Delhi. They won and Tytler went on to become a minister in the UPA-I government, only to resign in 2005 after the Nanavati Commission indicted him. Tytler was a minister in the governments of Rajiv Gandhi, P V Narasimha Rao and Manmohan Singh.
Bhagat headed Delhi Congress in the early 1990s. The party gave tickets to both Tytler and Kumar in 2009 but were dropped later.
Sources in Delhi Congress said the judgment against Kumar was not unexpected. “It is not going to have any adverse impact on the present day working of the party. He will immediately resign as an AICC member,” a senior Delhi Congress leader said. “We respect the judgment of the court. We have always been with the victims,” AICC in-charge P C Chacko told The Indian Express. His party colleague Abhishek Singhvi said Kumar’s is a legal and judicial issue and it must be allowed to take its own course.